PROJECT #BEYOUROWN BOSS: STEPHANIE MONTY
Stephanie Monty is the founder and CEO of Ostique Ltd. Both of her brothers suffer from Crohn’s disease, and witnessing first-hand the devastating consequences of bowel disease is what inspired her to create Ostique’s innovative ostomy products. Ostique’s key innovation is to combine customisable aesthetics and innovative material technology to improve users’ quality of life, optimise patient outcomes, and promote positive body image.
A note from Stephanie
I never thought that I would start my own business, certainly not a medical device start-up, but being my own boss is the best job I’ve ever had. Every day is different and I am constantly learning. My business has allowed me to dream bigger than I ever thought possible.
When one of my younger brothers was facing bowel surgery and the possibility of having a stoma, I began researching stoma devices. It seemed that many of the products available merely reinforced the associated social stigma. Whilst studying product design at Brunel University, I saw a design opportunity borne from a desire to help my brothers. Instead of the furniture designer I had always aspired to be, my career took a totally different direction.
I developed an ostomy prototype at Brunel, which was then exhibited at New Designers, Made in Brunel and London Design Week. My designs began to generate media buzz and when people started asking where they could buy one, I quickly realised there was real potential to start my own business. I then won significant grant funding from Innovate UK and have been running Ostique ever since.
It was vital that I built a strong team of experts and advisors. I am the first person to admit when I don’t know something! Taking the time to build my support network meant that I always had good guidance.
With the investment, I was able to grow the Ostique team by hiring my business partner Toni Schneider. Toni and I know each other inside out, and I know that her skills complement the areas I find difficult, so we make a fantastic team. Despite warnings against working with a friend, she is the best partner I could have hoped for and together we are making great waves in this traditionally male-dominated industry.
However, bringing on new people was also extremely difficult. As an entrepreneur (some might say control freak!), it is tempting to keep a tight hold of all aspects of the business, because you have had to manage everything yourself from day one. But, in order to grow, you have to delegate, which is why it is important to have a team that you trust.
Another highlight for me has been working collaboratively with patients throughout the development process. Understanding who I am designing for and keeping that focus is a constant inspiration and ensures we are developing the best possible products.
Being my own boss has allowed me to operate with freedom and creativity measured with accountability and significant levels of stress (that my partner bears the brunt of!). Every day brings new challenges and opportunities. Having worked for other people before, I had neither experienced such high highs nor low lows, but I would not change a single thing.
Together with our team, Toni and I are driven by our passion for improving the lives of patients worldwide. With our innovative device and patented technology, we are only at the start of our journey and look forward to an exciting future with Ostique.